Ditch the New Years Gym Membership…workout at home instead!

Ditch the New Years Gym Membership…workout at home instead!

Every year, I get surprised as to how close Christmas and New Years is. It seems like just as the Christmas celebrations and dinner parties are over, I have celebrations for New Years right after!

With New Years comes New Year’s Resolutions. There will be a separate post about setting nutrition and fitness resolutions on the blog earlier next week. In the meantime, for those whose New Year’s Resolution is to get a gym membership, hold off.

While my family still has a gym membership, we do not use our gym membership that often. Going to the gym (no matter how close it is), having to look somewhat presentable, and sharing equipment sometimes has it downfalls. I always love fitting in my workout at my house because it’s just so much more convenient. I can wear totally uncoordinated outfits, I can get set up in less than 5 minutes, and there’s no time wasted coming to and from the gym.

Here are a few examples of home workouts to convince you that you can get a solid exercise routine all in the comfort of your house!

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1.Running | I’ve definitely fallen off my runner’s high bandwagon, but I still from time to time return to running because it gets my heart rate up quickly and release endorphins (the “happy” hormone). My go-to method is going outside and running around my neighborhood.

For those who want to run inside without the preying eyes of your neighbors (haha), check out this treadmill guide that was shared to me. It’s one of the most detailed treadmill guides, if not the most detailed guide in general. It divides the guide into best walking, running, training and even most entertainment provided treadmills.

2. YouTube | There’s so many great workout videos that are free on YouTube! I’ve shared a couple on the blog, but some of my favorites are blogilates, Fitness Blender, Ballet Beautiful and PopSugar Fitness. Let me know in the comments below of any other workout channels that you enjoy!

3. 7 minute workout app | I use this app if I’m pressed for time and don’t have time fit in a proper workout in. It’s great because you don’t need any equipment. Just grab your tennis shoes, grab a yoga mat if you want, find an open space in your house and start the workout! This is great for those who are just starting an exercise routine. With anything habitual and lasting, the best way to start is to do it incrementally. You’re going to burn out if you go to the gym for an hour everyday. Start with doing the 7 minute workout two to three times a week and build up from there.

4. Be creative! | For those who really don’t have time to carve out time to workout even at home, try implementing more active things in your daily life. From time to time, I work standing up rather than sitting down all day. I’ll grab my laptop and books and create a small set up on the island in my kitchen. It’s the perfect height for a standing desk. The standing desk is great as well since you can easily squeeze in a few squats or lunges while working. Even when brushing your teeth or when you’re on a call with someone, walk around rather than standing still. Stretch in the morning and in the night. Even the little things will add up overtime, I promise.

So there you have it! Hopefully I’ve convinced some of you that you don’t have to break the bank by signing up for a gym membership this new year.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season with your family and friends!

What’s your favorite at home workout?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

Taking care of yourself this holiday season

I was falling into the black hole of YouTube the other day (you know that hole where you go in to find one video and then 2 hours later, you find yourself watching a totally unrelated video?) and I came across a video featuring Miranda Kerr. It’s actually a worthwhile video to watch, but she said something in the video that really resonated with me.

“If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a mother, you can give so much more to your work …”

Obviously, this quote can be tailored to you: “If you take care of yourself, then you can give so much more as a ________ [friend, daughter, wife, mother …]

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I don’t know why, but I’ve been especially cranky and “off” this holiday season. Throughout the school year, I would get into frequent bouts of feeling “off” to the point where many of my friends felt it.

Now I’m not advocating for people pleasers, but I don’t think it’s fair or ever enjoyable for your friends to deal with negative/pessimistic people. I always feel horrible and sorry when I’m snapping back to my friends or am not my usual chirpy self.

I think this quote is really critical, especially during the holidays when we’re spending so much time with our family and friends. We have to be the best versions of ourselves so that we can step our best foot forward when we’re spending time with others.

For me, that’s to exercise, journal, get lots of sleep, eat nourishing and nutritious food and getting enough alone time. This last one seems counterintuitive, but I often times find myself the most energetic and outgoing with my friends when I’ve had enough time for myself to recharge.

And exercise doesn’t have to be extreme. I usually like to go on runs, but these days I’ve been trying out the barre/pilates/yoga classes at my gym – and completely obsessed! It’s nice to have someone tell you what to do and the class members motivate you to not give up! Or even a simple morning walk with the dog or family is always up my alley.

So in short, remember to pamper and take care of yourself during the holiday season. It can definitely get hectic and busy, but unless you maintain the best version of yourself, you can’t give as much to those around you.

What do you do to recharge/take-care of yourself?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

Small Change, Big Gain

Small Change, Big Gain

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my Tried & True Wellness Tips over on the blog. The central idea of that post was that while these tips are not life-changing, consistent practice and application of them will produce great results.

To be honest, this has been my mantra ever since I naively lost 40 lbs. in the course of two months and then gained it back again. I realized the importance of sustainable healthy practices, not extreme ones. Here is one of favorite posts that talk about this small change, big gain theme: How small steps (literally) can change your life

So you can imagine my excitement when Elysium Health included my advice in a graphic they created with this same theme! I’ve been perusing their website recently and I love reading their research and mission. They’ve also released an NAD+ supplement called Basis—it’s some really interesting stuff.

I loved the graphic so much that I decided to share it on the blog!

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Aren’t these great tips?

Hope you can use these small tips to create a big gain in your week!

What small change are you going to implement this week?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Thank you for Elysium Health for creating this awesome graphic.

How small steps (literally) can change your life

How small steps (literally) can change your life

In this fast-paced world of instant access, it’s perfectly normal that we want change fast. Changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and being more active. Things I talk about here in avolicious a lot.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Take a leap of faith.” Well actually don’t. I was to be honest tempted to title this post as “Don’t take that leap of faith”

Let me explain.

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Just like taking the stairs. One step at a time.

I took a huge leap of faith, a leap that looking back I realize was completely uneducated and made in blindness. That leap was in the faith that I would become skinner. I don’t what got into that eighth-grade self me. Looking through the pictures now, I was perfectly fine! But at that moment, I felt large. I felt big. I felt like I was that “fat friend” amidst my friend group. Nobody pressured me or treated me differently to lose weight. In fact, it was completely my decision.

I can’t completely say that I regret this decision, as this leap let me become so passionate about proper nutrition and fervent on redefining what “healthy” means to me (which you can read here).  However, if I was given the choice and go back in time, I would choose not to go through this arduous journey.

This leap of faith made me restrict myself to consuming a mere 1,200 calories and running an average of 3 miles daily in the scorching sun. Roughly calculating it, I probably lived off of 500-800 calories. In a matter of 3 months, I lost 20 pounds. But most importantly and significantly, I lost my self-esteem and self-confidence which still affects me today.

Yes, that big leap of faith allowed me to get quick results FAST. I was so proud and pleased with my appearance. I was able to fit into those skinny jeans, no problem. I had a thigh gap. I had a flat stomach. I finally looked like those girls on Instagram.

But I was completely miserable. My day was dictated merely on numbers – the number on the scale, the number of calories I ate that MyFitnessPal app told me, the number of miles I ran that day, the number on the size tag of my clothes. These numbers consumed my life and let me tell you, I felt so powerless. I was in such control of my eating, yet I felt so out of control in my life (it’s a hard feeling to describe but I’m sure a lot of those who’ve gone through ED or experiencing one right now can attest to this).

But fast-forward two years now, I am a much better relationship with food now. I don’t necessarily think that I am fully recovered. I still have a long way to go.

But I have made progress.

And through my experience, I can say that I’ve had successful progress when I took small steps.

Small and baby steps.

Give you an example? I’ve been straying away a bit from running these days. I used to love running the past, but these days I dread just thinking of the mileage and the prospect of running. Instead, I’ve been doing so much walking.

I’m a Type A gal so I love keeping track of things. I’ve been recently logging my steps into the Health app on my iPhone. I’ve been average 10,000+ steps daily!

I wake up at 6:30am when the weather is actually bearable and take a 30-40 minute power walk. This gets me to about 4,000 steps. Later in the evening, I take a 60-75 minute walk with my parents after dinner. This second walk allows me to get up to 10,000-12,000 steps.

And the best part? I get to enjoy being active. I sincerely do get excited about the prospect of walking in the morning and after dinner. While yes, walking necessarily may not burn as much calories, I am able to do it more consistently and with a glad heart.

And to be honest, all I’m going for is to develop a sustainable, maintainable, and happy lifestyle. Nothing too extreme – on both sides of the spectrum. Doing things that I enjoy, eating things that I enjoy, and most importantly, enjoying the body that I was born with.

So I challenge you: instead of making your goal to go to the gym for an hour everyday, or go cold turkey tomorrow, pick ONE change and stick with it.

Have you tried taking baby steps?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Getting Out of a Funk

Getting Out of a Funk

I’ve recently been in a funk. After school got out on May 31st, I’ve just lost all motivation and energy. I am an extremely organized and Type-A person – so much so that I plan my days out to the minute. Throughout the school year, before I went to sleep, I would create my schedule from my notes app. It would be something like

 

This sort of method helped me to stay on top of things but I think such a rigid and structured schedule made me completely flop over when school ended.

Things I enjoyed such as blogging, running, and reading, became things I didn’t even consider doing. I just wanted to sleep, eat, and watch videos on YouTube.

It’s hard to describe the feelings exactly but I’m sure many of you guys here can relate those days when you just don’t want to do anything.

But I’m slowly coming out of that funk right now and I have a few tips based on my experience.

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UNPLUG | We unfortunately have these things called electronics and social media. I really really recommend to those who are in a funk to just UNPLUG. We have such a bad tendency to just reach for our phones or our computers whenever we feel lazy or unmotivated. This is procrastination at its finest. I tend to procrastinate on studying or doing work by going on social media rather than spending time with my friends or family or by reading. This past week, I unplugged for just one day and it was such a powerful experience. My emotions and feelings were no longer dependent on these small devices – I felt so free and lighter. Take a day or a few hours to just unplug (if you need to tell some important people beforehand, send them a quick text saying that you’re going to turn off your phone for x amount of hours). You’ll feel refreshed and reset to forget about the sluggish past few days and look forward to a fresh new slate.

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WALK | While I haven’t been running at all this past week, I’ve been walking every night for an hour with my parents. Something about being surrounded by who love you the most in the midst of a light cool evening breeze and just walking it out is therapeutic. Also, walking alone is great too. Listen to some music (or refrain if you’re going to adhere to #1) and take a moment to just reflect and think.

JOURNAL | Maybe it’s because I am a huge journal addict, but I love love journaling. Its really powerful to just jot down your feelings. Sometimes you just don’t know why you’re feeling like you do. You feel sluggish, unmotivated and lazy, but you don’t know WHY. And writing in your journal, it allows you to again, take a minute, reflect, and identify why you’re feeling a certain way and then find ways to solve it.

You can see that in these three tips, the running theme is to TAKE A MINUTE. Just take a moment, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and reflect what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.

And the most important thing to remember is that we all have those days. It’s normal to feel unmotivated and sluggish. We are not perfect. We are human. We are allowed to feel lazy and not are best selves.

How do you get out of a funk?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

 

Essentials for a Great Workout Routine

Essentials for a Great Workout Routine

It’s finally spring weather! After a super cold and dreary winter season, it’s so nice to sit on the porch with the sun shining and wind billowing. And of course, spring means that there is absolutely NO excuse to exercise! As much as I love working out and breaking a sweat, it’s definitely hard in the winter with the weather and just the ole winter blues.

With spring season and summer right around the corner, I wanted to share a few of my essentials for a killer workout routine.

1) Aaptiv

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Aaptiv is one of my newest discoveries, but quickly becoming my favorite and most crucial to have an amazing workout session. Warning: this is not a regular fitness app. The app provides motivation and guidance right from your headphones. For instance, when I do a treadmill workout, throughout the whole run, the trainers (one of my favorites being Rochelle) are continually motivating and cheering you on. The trainers are all super inspiring and their pumped-up voices are literally what makes me go that extra mile or push harder. Rather than my voice telling me that I should stop, go slower, or take a break, Rochelle’s voice shatters those doubtful thoughts. For those who are lacking in the motivation department, especially when you’re in the midst of the workout, give Aaptiv a try! (They provide a free 7-day trial. I’m sure you’ll be hooked on it after the 7 days, haha). If you check out their website and scroll down, you can hear a sample workout.

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^ Go to the website link and find this button to hear a sample workout!

2) Hydroflask Waterbottle

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I have this one in purple and LOOOVE it

Now, this isn’t just any water bottle. It has to be a Hydroflask. Oh my goodness, I can’t express how much I love my Hydroflask. On those hot and boiling days, opening my Hydroflask and sipping on ice-cold water is THE BEST FEELING. Even if I filled it up in the morning, my water stays cold even when I finish a workout late at night. (I believe that it insulates cold water for 24-hours and hot water for 12-hours). I highly recommend investing in a great insulating water bottle – it will change the way you drink water. (I’ve seen other popular insulating water bottles like S’well)

 

3) Scheduling

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Any bullet journal fanatics around here?

Out of all the essentials here, I believe that number three is the most important. Scheduling and carving out time to workout is key. For me especially, I am a busy-bee and have a million and one things to do in the weekday (and weekend sadly). So unless I schedule and write down that I’m going to workout, chances are, I’m not. And the workouts don’t have to be long at all. Even 20 minutes each day will make you feel much more energized and fit! In the app I was talking about previously, there is a filter where you can filter workouts depending on their duration, a feature I love and use a lot. If I only time to squeeze in a short workout I filter the time to 20 minutes and I can pick and choose which workouts I want to do within the 20 minutes. If I have more time, I would choose like a 45-min or even an hour long piece. TIP: Make sure that when you schedule your workout session, you create buffer time before and after the session. Usually I have a 5-min buffer before and a 10-min buffer after so that I have time to change, head to the gym, and take a break if needed.

 

4) Be realistic

Don’t overdo yourself. Make sure that your workout routine is sustainable. There are very low chances that you will continue a workout session if every time it is miserable and you hate it. In fact, for around 3 weeks, I’ve been routinely walking 10,000 steps daily. And while it took some modifications to get to that quota, the changes weren’t so drastic that I’ve been able to do it everyday. Making manageable changes are key to continue your workout session. In addition to manageable changes, it’s important to make sure you’re enjoying the workout. For me, I love running, taking long walks, golfing, or doing yoga, so I get to be happy while I’m burning calories – a win-win! I think Aaptiv does a great job with this (have I mentioned how much I love Aaptiv?!). The trainers are super motivating and after the end of each workout, I feel so rejuvenated and energized. The trainers at Aaptiv are what allows me to come back to the app each time for another workout.

 

What are your workout essentials?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Glass half-full? Or glass half-empty? | Positive Mindset

Glass half-full? Or glass half-empty? | Positive Mindset

The first day back from spring break, I had golf try-outs.

Now, I’m NOTHING NOTHING compared to Serena (she is a goddess at golf, but she’s way too humble to brag or talk about it, so I’ll do it for her: her handicap is an 8!!! An 8!!!).

However, ever since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always wanted to learn and do golf. My dad is an avid golf fan and he goes out with his friends or coworkers pretty much every weekend. He always expressed interest for my mom and me to join him to golf. As much as he loved golfing with his friends, he’s always wanted to play with his family.

So after having a horrible experience with crew (it’s a very respectable sport, but it just wasn’t the sport for me), I had nothing to do for spring term. I decided to try out golf.

I started playing golf seriously last summer, so summer of 2016. I had weekly lessons and my dad and I would go out to the driving range several times a week. But being that I was away at boarding school and busy with school work, I could only practice golf intensely during school breaks.

So with a lack of sufficient experience, I was a wreck and full of nerves and anxiety leading to the golf tryouts. However, if there is one thing I learned from golf try-outs, it’s having a positive mindset.

I used to play tennis before (yeah, as you can see, I’ve had my fair share of many sports but I was never able to stick to a sport since I was so horrible at it haha. One of the reasons I fell in love with running – not much skill needed). One thing about tennis that I miss is the mental game. You have to have a strong mental game. Period.

I remember during tennis matches between each point, while waiting for the serve or before my serve, I would tell myself “Stephanie, you can do this. You can do this. Have confidence. Have faith. You can do this.”

And this sort of mental pep talk does wonders. It really does. Playing with a positive and confident mindset has a huge difference than playing with a negative and discouraging mindset.

Instead of regretting and grumbling of a bad shot, changing my mindset to “Okay, make the next shot the best you can,” has changed the outcome of my golf game drastically.

So in short, LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE. CARRY YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE.

Remember to always to have the glass half-full perspective. You’ll find yourself surprised of the positive outcomes that will come out of it.

How strong is your mental game?

xoxo,

Stephanie

Do I have to do rigorous exercise to stay fit?

Do I have to do rigorous exercise to stay fit?

Do I have to do rigorous exercise to stay fit?

This is definitely a question, actually more of a belief that I would have held last year.

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Golfing with my dad during the weekend. The sun was out, the sky was clear, perfect weather!

As much as I loved running and the feeling you get after a nice long run, I do have to admit that I did run for the sake of staying fit. My thought process was this: if I run, then that means I’m burning more calories, building up more stamina and endurance, yeah, I’m going to keep on running.

And this mindset would be the driving force despite the pain I felt in my knees, the heaviness in my quads, the limping after my run.

Now this isn’t to say that running is bad, no that’s not it. After taking a break from running and simply “intuitively exercising” I’ve realized that I’ve been extreme in my attitude towards exercise.

I reasoned that if you don’t exercise, namely rigorous exercise (which means lots of sweating, lots of heavy panting, frequent thoughts of “I can’t do this. I want to give up”), then I won’t be fit.

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I’m always up for a walk with my friends or family. Catching up while exercising! Best of both worlds!

However, as I continue to consistently do yoga, walk a lot, and go golfing, I realize that exercise doesn’t have to be necessarily rigorous to make an impact.

It’s just a matter of efficiency. Running, HIIT (High intensity interval training), boxing require a lot of energy but in a short burst of time. Yoga, golf, walking, hiking require much less energy, but during a longer period of time. Now, long distance running has both the energy and the length aspect, which is probably why the bodies of long distance runners is generally referred to as #bodygoals.

However, I think the key to exercise is not about the intensity or about the length, but about how much you enjoy it.

My dad personally hates running (yet he was my buddy runner for all my 5K GOTR races when I was in middle school – thanks dad!!! <3), but he LOOOVES golfing. He claims that he’s not good (I don’t know about that since he’s waaaay better than me lol) but he enjoys the sport so much. Now, there’s no point in him to run since he literally only goes to the gym once or twice a month to run on the treadmill. What good is that? Yeah, even if one mile is nearly 100 calories, what good is it if he only runs 4 miles ONCE a month? Just 400 calories.

But he almost golfing every weekend with his friends. And I mean every weekend. Minus the weekends that he’s visiting me that is. Even during the winter, he would go out with a million of layers and lots of heat packs. He even did a golf outing with his friends for a long weekend where for two days, they played 36 holes each. 18 holes before lunch and 18 holes after lunch. I know, extreme.

But despite the less energy golf requires, my dad does it in such high frequency that in the long run, golf is the exercise that makes him fit. And let me tell you, don’t regard golf lightly. All the times I’ve gone golfing with my dad, walking the full course is a lot of work. I had my phone in my pocket the whole time and after the course, I checked my phone and it was already over 10,000 steps. Think about it! I just walked the recommended number of steps by doing a round of golf! It definitely requires less energy BUT it’s for a prolonged time so it definitely does train you.

Sorry for this long rant – these days, I’ve been getting a lot of “aha!” moments about eating and exercise. And I wanted to spread this “wisdom” I’ve been getting with you all.

What’s your favorite form of exercise?

xoxo,

Stephanie

 

Walkers high?

Walkers high?

Am I making this term up? I don’t know.

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There’s such thing as a runner’s high, and let me tell you, it’s real. Now, I’m not a professional runner, let alone a varsity runner at my school, but I sure did love running winter of 2015 all the way to fall 2016.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m taking a break from running as I’m just not feeling it (#intuitive exercise).

Anywho, I’ve been walking a lot more in response. Apparently, you’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. Now, in a culture where we sit down to study, sit down to eat, sit down in the car, sit down just everywhere, that’s hard.

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But…getting those steps gets addictive. At least for me as a Type-A, workaholic, and perfectionist. I’ve been going upstairs and downstairs getting my mom’s bag for her, getting my dad’s keys, just to log more steps. I’ve been running in place while I’m brushing my teeth and flossing. I’ve been walking to and fro in the house while I watch YouTube videos or read a book.

It’s kind of insane and silly to watch me like that in the house, but overall, I’ve been able to log in more steps and truth be told, I do feel like I’m getting enough exercise but just spread over time. So call me someone on walkers high, because honestly, I really just might.

Have you had walkers’ high before?

xoxo,

Stephanie

My Stretching Routine

My Stretching Routine

I have to give credit where credit is due. While I’m not athletic (at all, trust me), I do consider myself quite flexible. I did ballet for a couple of years when I was in kindergarten and first grade and and then on and off during fourth grade, but I don’t think ballet really had anything to do with me and my flexibility.

Flexibility is crucial – it keeps your muscles elongated and supple, reduces the risk of injury, and helps with recovery. For me, my mom “forced” me to stretch every night before bed so that I can grow taller. As a daughter where her dad is 5’7″ (around 170cm) and 5’1″ (around 150 cm), anything that could help me grow taller by even a centimeter was accounted for.

However, even though I’ve stopped growing, this habit of stretching has ingrained in my head and body, that I stretch literally every night I go to sleep.

Below is my stretching routine:

 < Before Bed >

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SINGLE LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH | the key is to keep a straight back and a straight leg, you don’t have to touch your toes
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BOTH LEG HAMSTRING STRETCH | again, the key is to keep a straight back and a straight leg, you don’t have to touch your toes
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BUTTERFLY STRETCH | you don’t necessarily have to be as this happy as this woman, haha; BUT, the key is to keep a straight back while trying to push your knees closer to the ground – you should feel a stretch in your inner thighs
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LYING DOWN QUAD STRETCH | If you’re uber flexible, or you get used to this stretch and want to feel a deeper stretch, try lying down where with your back on the ground 😉

 

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SEATED TORSO TWIST | the key in this stretch is to keep a straight back and every time you breathe out, to twist your body a bit more

 < During the day/In the morning >

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STANDING UP SIDE STRETCH | The key is to keep your feet and legs together and to apply pressure on them. As you apply pressure on your lower body, while keeping a straight back lean to one side and hold. Then reset and lean to the other side. Make sure to breathe!
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STANDING UP LEANING BACK STRETCH | The key is to keep your pelvis stable and to lean your pelvis forward. This allows for maximum stretch. Also, keep your legs and feet together.
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CHAIR TORSO TWIST | I think you got the hang of it by now, but keep a straight back. As you breathe out, twist a bit more.
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STANDING QUAD STRETCH | Everybody has different flexibilities, so move your raised leg forward or backward from your body to get the right stretch. For stability, fix your gaze on ONE point on the ground.
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STANDING HAMSTRING HANG STRETCH | The key is to make sure your legs are straight (don’t make those knees buckle in!) and your back to be straight!

Try to incorporate at least ONE of these stretches this week! I think you’ll feel a difference!

How flexible are you?

xoxo,

Stephanie